Thursday, January 26, 2012

Horse = happyness


Yeah, life is good! I can't even begin to fully express how happy I am now that I have a horse again! Love love love love it. :)

Each day I'm counting down the hours until I'm done with work, until I can go to the barn with hubby to play with our horse, to take the kiddos so they can play in the hay barn. On top of it all, the Spring semester is off to a good start, homework is going well, and I feel like I can conquer my Chem class!

The new guy, Cash, is settling in well. He has a new girlfriend, a 10hh Shetland pony mare who is also new... it is the funniest thing ever! He threw a little temper tantrum today when she left, which I promptly shut down when he decided he would start kicking (!!!). Other than that, he is doing awesome. Manners are coming along, and he's start to get the idea of lunging like a grown up horse! I feel that those goals I listed for February are definitely going to be very attainable. But more on that later.

For now, life is good, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it!

Awww! Hubby + horse = friends!
For grins and giggles - our pitt/boxer mix found herself
the mother of all fetch sticks. She was VERY pleased with
herself carrying that thing around!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Well, he's here!


We went and got the new guy yesterday! I was thinking there for awhile it wasn't going to happen because of the wind. My word it was gusting something awful. But it died down right at 4:15 and gave us just enough daylight to get him!

He stepped right into the trailer like a good boy, although was a bit nervous once he got in, overall he trailered well and when we got there he backed out of the trailer without fuss. I put him in the arena so that he could run around a bit and meet the other horses over the fence that he'll eventually be living with. That all went well and he sniffed noses with just about all the horses. Baby just pinned her ears, gave the sassy mare head toss and walked away, the others were excited at first then lost interest. Shadow, the little hackney pony, was strutting his stuff though, pawing and snorting and squealing like a little stallion. Oh pony!! He thinks he's as big as the new guy, even if his back only comes up to the new guy's belly!!! It's all about attitude right?
But yeah, the new guy looks downright ginormous compared to all the other horses! He must be a good hand higher than the tallest horse out there. Woooohoo! I need to stick him, I'm wondering if he's closer to 16.3 or 17hh now.

After an hour we moved him into his stall as all the other horses came in. He wasn't quite so sure what to think about that, he kept grabbing mouthfuls of hay then spinning around in his stall trying to see everybody! He was most fascinated though by the billy goats on the other side of his stall, they had jumped up on their hut so he could sniff noses with them across the top of the wall. It was rather cute!

I absolutely cannot wait to get back out there after work and school today! Time to start working on those ABCs. The biggie is going to be getting caught, even with the halter on it's difficult, he sees that rope or thinks you are going to grab his halter and he takes off. Thankfully bribing with treats and lots of scratches (he loooooooves having his face and withers scratched) works, get him distracted with that and he doesn't notice getting the lead rope clipped on. Right now, he's just gonna get lots of pampering so that he associates being caught with good things, not just having to work really hard and be handled(probably) rather roughly. Now that he's here he is going to be handled at least twice daily, once to get turned out, the other to be brought into his stall to find his hay and grain. So I think that will help a ton, he'll soon learn that it's a rather un-climactic thing to be handled and caught, and that it just isn't a big deal.

So yeah, I can't wait! I'm so excited to have him and I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

I still need a nickname though... hopefully that will come soon as I get to know him.

He says he's ready to be an eventing pony!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The ABC's of being a horse


I went out to see the new boy again yesterday afternoon, just to see how he was without being all wound up. Boy, when I said he knew nothing... it literally meant nothing. Yesterday morning I had jotted down a list of goals that I would like to reach by the end of February with him. Things like lunging w/t/c, simple free jumping, hand walking along trails.... I'm gonna leave those on, but I will be adding a few much more basic skills on top of it.

A) When a treat is offered, one can nibble it from the hand offering it and munch it contently
I took a bucket of horse cookies out, I offered one in my hand and he sniffed it suspiciously, then looked at me like "ok, now what". So I let him eat a few out of the bucket, once he decided he liked them I was able to transition them to my hand. He had it figured out in about 15 minutes. I was told afterwards that supposedly he really likes carrots, so we shall try that next.

B) Halters & ropes are not horse eating monsters, and it is OK to stand quietly in a large paddock and let your owner catch and halter you, because you will get one of the above mentioned treats
He would let me come and pet him, curry him, stand next to him, without a fuss or care. But as soon as I even reached for the halter he was outta there! Especially a halter with clinking brass hardware. Even with it over my arm and close to my body he wouldn't come near me. I swapped for a rope halter and he found that much less suspicious, and I was able to move it around slowly in front of him, letting him see it without him taking off. But unfortunately, in order to actually catch and halter him we had to herd him into a stall sized enclosure and I had to corner him to get it on. Poor guy was shaking and had his head up in the air to avoid the halter. But, the good thing was he never got aggressive, never pinned his ears, or threatened to harm me, he just wanted to get away. Once it was on him he was cool, but having the halter/rope rubbed over him was a bit of a freak-out thing. At the end I was able to rub the loud clinky halter on his neck/shoulder/side, he tried to pull away at first, but when he figured it out it wasn't going to hurt him, he settled down. I left a halter on him, so he will live in that for some time while we practice haltering/catching. I'm happy to say that by the end, when I unclipped the leadrope to let him free in his paddock, he stood there with ears forward and nudged me for a treat :)

C) When being led by your owner, it is important to pay attention to them, not to the other horse over there, or the birds in the trees, or the cars going by, or...
I took him into the round pen to just go over some basic leading, halting, backing skills. He knows how to do it all, but was NOT paying attention to me, he was paying attention to everything but with his head sky hi. So I just kept it fast paced, whenever his attention wavered I asked him to do something different: walk, halt, back up, walk, turn, halt, walk, turn, back up, and so on. Within about 10 minutes he had figured out that it was much easier to pay attention. He was walking quietly with his head level with his withers, and when I asked him to back up he yielded at his poll and stepped back without resistance. Good boy!!

So, I definitely have my work cut out for me. I feel like I'm in one of those mustang challenges lol, get a completely unbroke and untouched horse and train it. I'm in hog heaven though, it's definitely a challenge and I'm all game for it!!

For the fun of it, here is the list of goals I jotted down yesterday morning, it will be interesting to see how many I can check off by the end of February.
- Manners: Respect of personal space. No biting, shoving, pushing, pulling, etc. Being caught and turned out without fuss
- Stand tied quietly without pawing or wiggling
- Lunge walk/trot, starting on using side reins
- Explore roads/trail via hand walking
- Free jumping over a small single jump

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New horse!!!


So, I got him! He's mine! I'm so excited!
Just pending paperwork, but most likely I'll get to go get him next Saturday and bring him home. :)
He's 8 years old, about 16.2hh (but I've got to stick him, he could be taller), BIG boned, bold, and with a super flashy trot. He raced for about 4 years and just came off the track last august and has pretty much been sitting in a paddock for 4 months. His legs are super clean, only blemish I could find was a tiny tiny popped splint on his inside right front leg. His feet need attention, they look as though they haven't been trimmed in quite some time, so I was pleasantly surprised at how sound he trotted out on hard ground!!
Some pictures:

My only critiques on his conformation are a shortish neck and his front pasterns are a touch short/upright. Otherwise, he is a very nice looking horse. Tons of bone, clean and straight legs, a lovely hip and shoulder. Typical TB withers, but nothing to distract from him. He very much resembles an old style warmblood. 

He was rather wound up when we got there, he had been moved to a smaller pen closer in, and as a result the other horses around had gotten excited and he was full of it. So he wasn't happy about getting stuck in a round pen where he couldn't see out!! We let him run around a while, then caught him, and I felt him down, he doesn't care about being touched anywhere. Moved away from pressure pretty good. Then I tested to see if he knew how to lunge... yeah, nope. I literally taught him how to do that when I was there. But, he picked up on it super quick!
 Free in the round pen
Learning how to lunge
I saddled him up and hopped on to see what he knew there. Again, nothing! Yeah this boy doesn't know anything beyond running in a circle to the left. Sterring was iffy at best, but he got better at it towards the end. When he actually relaxed and put his head down, his trot felt huge! This horse is gonna be awesome in the dressage ring.
First ride

My husband came and gave his stamp of approval (YAY), saying that he really liked him. So that was great to hear! I lunged him a bit more in the arena to see what he'd do, he wasn't bad, still iffy on the whole lunging idea, especially to the right, but he was getting the idea. Then I untacked him, tied him up (he ties, but doesn't know how to stand still). Struck a deal, shook hands, and put him away! Horray!!

I'm so stinkin excited, he's gonna be a huge project, he's just a big baby, but he is going to be so much fun. I can't wait to start working with him! I'm going to head out tomorrow after work to see him again, and I can't wait. 

It feels so good to have a horse again, and it's an even better feeling knowing that I own a horse that is injury free *knock on wood*. Yes!!

I need a nickname!
Now he just needs a nickname... everybody keeps saying Johnny, but I'm not doing that mostly cuz there already is someone in my family we call johnny. Not doing Cash cuz I used to know a horse named that and didn't like him lol. Some other ideas I've liked are Max, Mickey, Tex, Regi, Laredo, & Folsom. Nothing is sticking so far, guess I gotta get to know him more first.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Possible, maybe, could be, a horse for me?


Not much details at the moment!

But, I've gotten wind of a thoroughbred gelding in my area that the owner is looking to find the perfect home for. I'm awaiting contact information so I can get ahold of the owner, but I may go and look at him here in the near future! When I talked to my dear hubby about this horse I was not expecting a positive endorsement, however, to my complete surprised he suggested going to look at the horse before I even said I wanted to! Win!

From what I've been told, this is a chestnut with white socks, big, bold, and energetic. Mmmmm!

So, when I hear more I will post more :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas/New Years Update & Much Belated Show Report


It's been awhile since i've updated this. Life has been hectic to say the least between school, work, and my family. Trying to find a spare minute to sit down and relax for more than 10 minutes is rare. Lets put it this way, I could use a vacation!!
The horse show back in October (wow! time has flown) went pretty well. We got there a touch late, walked Baby around in the indoor, and she was doing really good, nice and chill, I was thinking things would be great. Her owner (who will furthermore be referred to as V) rode her first in two intro tests, she warmed her up in the warmup arena with a few other horses, and Baby was great. A bit of a looky-loo but not bad, she was listening. But, as soon as we got over to the indoor, and got inside where she couldn't see the other horses anymore.... oh heaven forbid! She was a bit batty, hot, tense, moving like a sewing machine. Oh Baby.
We got through the first test and then I took them over to the other side of the property, away from the other horses, to a empty grass arena and had them walk, and walk, and walk, and do a teeny bit of a trot and canter. We got Baby settled a bit. Then we were called back for the second Intro test. Baby was again OK till she saw other horses right before going into the indoor. *sigh* She was a bit better, but still very similar. I was very proud though of V for handling her so well! It was her first show ever and she was super nervous which didn't help, but she rode through it and got it under her belt. I told her the next one will be much easier.
There was then had a few hours to chill until my test, Training 2. By then a friend of mine and my hubby and the kiddos had shown up. So it was one big happy family (oh yeah and my Mom, the best horse show Mom in the world, was in town for a visit and thoroughly enjoying herself being the horse-holding, rag-carrying, camera-weilding horse show Mom that she is so good at! I love her). I got Baby ready and went to the warmup, she warmed up nicely with the exception that she would not stretch, at all. Hmmmm. Well, nothing I could really do to fix it at the show, just ride around it the best I could. The thing was, she has always been a fantastic stretcher at home, she loves it, and then works so much better into contact afterwards. So I had to push her a little bit more into the bridle to get a somewhat sorta connection.
Baby and I got called for our test, went over and she started to get a bit tense, i made her just walk, and walk, and walk while we waited. We went into the arena and I could really feel her tensing up, I picked up a trot and tried to get her working into the bridle and focused on me best I could before the bell rang, which wasn't much time! We got through the test, our two big bobbles was the free walk and the stretchy trot circle, go figure. I got a 4 on each. Ouch. She didn't want to stretch, and then in the free walk she was very inattentive and jigged towards the end. The other low mark was one of the trot to walk transitions, that was totally my fault, I asked her to walk and used a bit too much leg in the down transition, so she jigged into the walk and it was very unclear. Otherwise, I tried to make it as accurate as possible and do my best as a rider, because I knew the relaxation was not there!!
The judge awared us a 58% for the test.... ouch! I was aiming for a 60% or higher. Oh well. The judge comented that there was not enough jump in her canter (not surprising considering she is used to working on very hard ground and the footing in that arena was soft and deep in comparison!), and that her trot lacked suppleness (yup, I totally agreed with that). The judge mentioned that I hang too heavily on the left rein, causing the horse to tilt her head to the left. So I've been trying to pay attention to that since, I think it's because my left leg is weaker, so I try to compensate by overusing the left rein. Man... I need a lesson so bad!!
Baby and I in the warmup prior to our test
Since the show, or, since the daylight savings time change, I've gotten to ride maybe 5 times. :( It's not been fun. With all the stress of the holidays and other issues at hand I've been missing having my own horse something fierce. There just isn't quite anything like being able to cry your frustrations into the mane of your horse. They just stand there and let you get it all out. And you feel so much better afterwards!! I'm really wanting to put down a deposit this coming year for a 2013 in utero foal. Hubby says that I need to pay off my Jeep first, but that's a good year off at least unless he decides to help me out. I understand in the big picture, one year is not that long, but it seems like forever right now. Oh well, what can you do?
That said, the ponies are obviously enjoying their winter break, getting nice and fat and fuzzy. Baby's owner and I did get together right after thanksgiving (before it snowed here and got bitterly cold) and had a jumping day. I set up a little one stride in and out. I was riding Magic, the little QH mare I've been training. To my knowledge, she'd never jumped before in her life. I set up just one jump first, a teeny 12" verticle. I had V take Baby through a few times, and they did great, I instructed V to stay up out of the saddle over the fence.
I then decided to try to take Magic over the fence, the first two times she just plowed through the fence, sent the rail flying! The third time, I gave a good squeeze a stride out, and whadya know! She picked up her feet and hopped over it perfectly! I did it a few more times both ways to confirm the skill, then we set up the second half of the in-and-out.
V and Baby went through in a few times, and did really well, Baby knew exactly what she was doing and was a complete pro going through. Which was perfect for her owner, who hasn't done much jumping. I coached her on sitting up, grabbing mane, and keeping up out of the saddle so that she wouldn't get left behind over the fence! By the last time she went through, she was starting to get it! She had a huge grin on her face and said she may just be tempted to switch from dressage to jumping. At this point I put in my little sales speech for Eventing, hahahahahaha! ;)
Then, I took Magic through the in-and-out, I think the first time she kinda plowed through it. But, then it clicked, and as long as I gave a good hard squeeze about a stride and a half out she aced it!! The one time I didn't, to see if she had the idea on her own, she plowed through the first fence. Ooops! I was so tickled pink, I would have never pegged her as much of a jumping pony, but she seemed to really enjoy it! She also is really starting to show aptitude towards dressage, she is really getting the leg-yeild down, in the walk at least. I haven't started schooling it at the trot yet. Her canter still has a lot to be desired, but that's more of a fitness issue than anything. The day we jumped she gave me the best canter so far, controlled, balanced, not rushing around like a freight train. I was amazed! Goes to show that looks can be deceiving. I can't wait till spring time and I can start to ride her a bit more and get her in better shape. Who knows, maybe I can do a few dressage schooling shows, I'll have to talk with her owner and see. 
Last little bit of news that I'm very pleased with myself about: after the jumping day I decided to try and find some more poles and whatnot to jump with, since we only have two wood poles and a couple tiny wimpy pvc poles for two sets of standards! So, crusing around on craigslist I found an ad for old fence poles, as many as you could want. Horray! So I went and picked up 20 poles, wooohooo! They are 8ft poles, so a little shorter than normal jump poles, but for our small arena it will work out perfect. The only other option was 16ft and that wasn't gonna work lol. Then, I stumbled across an ad for empty plastic barrels!! Oh happy day! So I went and picked up four of those, and now we have plenty of fun stuff to jump and play around with. I'm super excited and cannot wait to get to use them :) Next project is to build a few sets of jump standards and then we'll be golden!
So, long post, but that is what's going on in my horsey world. Updates will probably be sparse over the next couple of months, but I'll try to be better about poking my nose in here from time to time. 
I hope everybody had a wonderful and merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year! For grins and giggles, little Maggie bear says hi too :)